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Exploring ocean surface currents and waves, from the ESA EE9 Sea surface KInematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) Mission

Abstract : SKIM is an ESA Earth Explorer-9 candidate mission designed to measure directly and simultaneously, for the first time, directional ocean surface current vector (OSCV) and ocean wave spectra. SKIM builds on satellite altimetry, including a nadir altimeter beam, and the first ocean wave spectrometer SWIM on CFOSAT. Using rotating beams across a 330 km swath, SKIM will explore beyond the 200 km - 15 days resolution of ocean currents that can be diagnosed today from sea level at mid latitudes. In particular SKIM will fill two important blind spots: in the tropics and in the marginal ice zone, and expand the effective space and time resolution of the altimeter constellation by a factor 2 or more. The novel direct measurement of surface currents in the top two meters will produce the first maps of the equatorial upwellings that are critical for understanding and forecasting the heat budget at the equator with far-reaching weather and climate consequences, for example on the African monsoon. OSCV maps will also allow the first monitoring of the highly dynamic currents at the ice edge. Adding this new and fundamental variable to Earth Observation capability together with high fidelity measurements of wave spectra will allow scientists to address a wide range of questions, including: How OSCV and waves influence upper ocean mixing and large scale circulation? How do OSCV and waves influence the dynamics of the ice edge in the Arctic and Antarctic? What are the roles of eddies, wind-driven flows and waves in setting the surface concentration of marine litter and shaping marine ecosystems? This presentation will explain how SKIM measurements will be used to address these scientific challenges using examples from mission and instrument simulator outputs.
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Contributor : Catherine Cardon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 11:33:47 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 8:26:02 AM


  • HAL Id : insu-02331047, version 1


F. Ardhuin, C. Donlon, E. de Witte, A. Battaglia, P. Brandt, et al.. Exploring ocean surface currents and waves, from the ESA EE9 Sea surface KInematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) Mission. Living Planet Symposium, ESA, May 2019, Milan, Italy. ⟨insu-02331047⟩



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